Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 324

there it goes... the last day in fernie.

as of eleven a.m. we were out out our house- that old, familiar inferior structure. being removed from it is exciting. swede and i moved our remaining food and possessions to the snowboarders for christ house. that's where i sit right now, tonight, and for the remaining night, writing this last post in this town.

ian and i went out for dinner at the fernie pub. buffalo burgers. some of his construction mates, including one of the head guys who incredibly remembered me calling him in october looking for work, sat around telling tales in the corner of the brick and windows. after that a bunch of us went to the theater for discount movie night. it was some canadian flick about some guy breaking away on a motorcycle and the most exciting part was the scene at the very surf shop in tofino that our road trip crew had gone to and rented from way back in may. the exact same place. i have pictures there. that was exciting.

we don't seem too hung up on goodbyes. many people are leaving and i'll see some of these friends again either on this continent or in their own homeland. those i never do meet again will meld into the positive and life changing memories that the past five months in this little ski town have become. the mountains that had grown so familiar loom, never to be touched again, by one less free spirited carver. at least not this season. now, and from any point in town, i can recognize and point out the different cliffs and lifts and bowls on the near horizon that had once been an unknown, indescribable rock face back in the autumn. yes, i'll miss this mountain as well. i've never known one so well before.

the sfc house is right across the street from the train tracks and a familiar, now louder, howl is echoing and rumbling outside the window this very second. there goes the last enchanting army of midnight coal trains. i can see their light through this dark window.

so here it is. my remaining friends have all gone to their places across town and i'm here for a clean break and to try to sum up five months in a brand new place that turned out to feel just as home as anywhere else i've ever known.

community. faith. inspiration. adventure. they're all here. living, breathing people. life. tomorrow i'll meet chris at mug shots for breakfast. then i'll meet another friend and together we'll leave town.

here are the remaining, now achieved, 'i would' statements drafted blindly over a year and a half ago. it's almost too much to believe that they've all come true.

i would...

drink green tea
become everything that people wouldn't let me grow up as
start over

i would play more music
write more songs
ride a bike
walk places
watch the sunset from my front porch
go to coffee shops
delete most if not all of the false 'friends' from facebook
take advantage of the knowledge of those around me
invest more in those around me
build a new life
make new friends
be friends with chill people

i would be happy

be someone i could be proud of 100% of the time

i would feel a great sense of ease

ask people what they want most in life
maybe help them find what that was
help me understand what i need most in life that i wasn't getting in rockford
help people who need help
love people who need love

i would redefine spirituality and the way it had so often manipulated the perspective of my appearances to people rather than the influence it had on life and people itself

i would lower my expectations for the typical life of searching for ultimate stability, comfort, and self-anhilation.

i would have fun

set higher standards
achieve these goals
have adventure
redefine life
have peace
have balance

i would feel free, completely fresh and free, where no one [would at first] know my name.

i would know i was free.

i would be free.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 323

naked. not empty, like it was when we first moved into the house, but eerie and now hollowed of our snowboards and food and gear and everything. we spent this last full day in our house cleaning. everything. and the carpets.

tonight was also the last movie night we would go to. greg, the owner of edge of the world, has had them at his house every monday the entire season.

now tonight i'll sleep on the couch cause the sheets have been cleaned and even the kitchen is spotless and won't be cooked in by us again. our phone and internet is disconnected and i'm sitting outside facing the stop n shop's free internet in an armchair we're giving away to whoever comes by to take it. most of the rest of our free stuff has been poached. the highway is quiet but for the occasional swooping semi and i'm about to go back inside for this last night in our house.

by the way, tomorrow is ichat video tour day. hop online and i'll give you a video tour of wherever i'm at in this town. serious.

edit addition: being outside tonight just came in really handy. i'd literally posted and gotten inside and then was shocked to see a body laying in the street just out front next to where i'd been sitting with the computer minutes ago. motionless. crutches scattered. i went outside. he was barely breathing. no answer. i poked him with a crutch. then again. he finally twitched and heaved. dude are you okay?

i guessed he might be thoroughly drunk but he was obviously also in excruciating pain. he winced and said that he'd had too much to drink and had fallen on his bad foot and had blacked out. i helped him up and held him up by the top back of his sweater and he slowly guided me to his place just down the street. he was making horrible sounds of pain the whole way and i couldn't get over how weird this night had just become. we got into his house and his head dipped between his arms and he grabbed the couch, swaying and begging me to go upstairs and get his roommate chris. imagine hearing your name called by a stranger in your house just outside your bedroom door some monday night. like i said, a weird situation.

a bewildered guy who would be chris opened the door with wide eyes, but once he came downstairs and saw his heaving and cringing roommate he started to freak out. i figured there was nothing left i could do and chris said 'cheers, cheer man' a dozen times over the cries of pain of his friend. man, i hope that the dude is okay.

ANOTHER edit addition: seconds after posting that last addition another drunk man came to our pile of stuff and tried to mount the desk up on his shoulders. he's stumbling around the street holding it above his head. i think he'll make it. this has been the weirdest night of the entire winter.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 322

about five months ago, nearly to the day, i wandered into the foyer of the church across the highway from our hotel with my duffle and rolling bag and backpack. a man greeted me and said i could just tuck all the stuff under the coat rack. i shook his hand back and said thanks.

a lady, marion, stood up that day to announce the opening for a janitor position. tyler and i laughed about the perfect timing from our seats and i got the job later that day.

now, on this last sunday morning in this church community, i felt the weight of the past five months of this place during the couple of minutes at the piano. i had walked into the sanctuary earlier and stu the sound man came up and said they had a c.d. track for offering. wanna play, being your last week and all?

yes. i would really like to. i got a coffee and my hands shook a bit. nervous? stu encouraged me by saying i was too good to be nervous. just pick a song, i told myself, you've got fifteen minutes. i can only imagine is what played when i got up there.

most of my friends were sitting a few rows up but i chose the corner seat in the back right corner next to some other friends. you can see the mountains out from the top window from this seat and from no other. i know this because i arranged and straightened these chairs countless times over the winter. this is the mountain seat.

pastor shawn prayed for tyler, the now former snowboarders-for-christ intern, and me during the service. i'm definitely gonna miss shawn and his friendship and sermons. he preached and lived love. others, like 'bill', saw it and so did i. at the end of the service several of the ladies hugged me. some of the men shook my hand and wished me luck and told me to come back soon. i gave my jar of stored winter pocket change to the lady who was specifically collecting change for a missionary. it was all coming together so well. she hugged me, too.

and after the service there was a members meeting where it was determined by an outstanding popular vote to finally change the name of the church- a process months in the making. goodbye janitor job and friends at fernie fellowship baptist church.

someday i will visit mountainside community church and feel just as at home as i have here these past five months.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 321

here it is. this is the hitch hiker's guide to fernie. i've only got a couple days left to write about this place.

so, as you wait with one arm extended towards oncoming traffic there is no need to make any indication of your destination. if you're at the hitching point just across the bridge then the passing traffic assumes your destination is out of town and for the ski hill. don't get too excited for just any car, either, because your best chance for a ride is heard before seen. rumbling engines and crawling rust directly increases your chance of a friendly youth who's willing to give you a lift. my two favorite rides were in the cab of a semi truck and laying with my board in the bed of a truck. i always dropped my thumb for a cadillac escalade or audi. they always did just pass. they wouldn't even give a frown or upturned palm to indicate that they were already full. sometimes the woman in the passenger seats would stare at the line of snowboarder and skiers bordering the highway as they cruised past in their alberta license plated luxury vehicles. can't depend on them folks for much of anything. our band wrote a song about them.

if you wanna get around town then being without a vehicle still isn't a bad thing. fernie itself isn't even a mile long if you follow the highway from the hitching point away from the ski hill and across the bridge to the church and tim hortons on the other, furthest side of town. our house is in the middle of this distance and, conversely, in the middle of everything in either direction. the stop 'n shop, organic market, ice and curling rink, edge of the world snowboard shop, hostel, power mountain inn, snow valley motel, pub, currie bowl restaurant, bargain shop, car dealership, red tree lodge and restaurant, sporting goods shop, dentist, salon, fly fishing business, subway, yama goya sushi restaurant, and 7-11 gas station were all within a three minute maximum walk from our driveway. our place was the ideal place to live, really. as a group of friends and collective strangers to this place we were truly blessed.

today was my last day as janitor for the church. even the church is an eleven minute walk from our house. there's a new man taking over the janitorial duties and he told me about a workshop he had to go to about oil and coal. many men in this valley work for elk valley coal in some way, shape, or form. jeremy, from our band, works as an engineer. so does jesse. other younger guys, including another band mate ian, work construction for the fernie 901 projects around town.

seasonal work is really objective and most australians, kiwis, brits, swedes, and canadians work for the resorts of the canadian rockies as a liftie, ticket checker, or instructor. rcr. the man. the ski hill. working for the ski hill gives you a staff ski pass and 96% of the people are here to ride mountain powder so they take these minimum wage jobs for free riding. downtown is filled with renovated old buildings that house various ski/snowboard stores, outdoor outfitters, coffee shops, bars, grocery, and general store kind of businesses owned by locals or year-round denizen. the tea house. mug shots. commit snowboard shop. the guide's hut. extra foods. overwaitea foods. iga. and many others.

i'm not sure i ever saw a homeless person in fernie and i always wondered how so many people would afford going to the bars every weekend on their meager salaries. drinks in bars aren't cheap here. then again, most of the ruckus-raisers are foreign seasonals without any long term goals. dozens of these friends have plans to work on yachts in france or road trip the states as their next big adventure.

'bill', the man i mentioned a couple days ago in the tea house, told me that the average population of fernie is around three thousand people. in the winter it breaks down to maybe six hundred australians, four hundred kiwis, a couple hundred brits, and another hundred or so swedes. the rest are canadians. i was the only full blood american that i met in this town the entire season. maybe except greg, the legend who owns edge of the world, who was originally from the carolinas. people always asked why i was here. the blog was sometimes the easiest answer. that or ''living with a group of friends.'' i was always tempted to make up some yarn about being from one of the tiny northern towns that dot the canadian map that hangs in our kitchen.

a bank lady told me once that this 'was a tight-knit community.' a couple of my friends who are locals say that they've gotten used to the winter influx of people and friends and the massive flow of spring goodbyes. many come back winter after winter. now that the end of march is here, people have begun streaming out of town as fast as they had back in december. the 'season' lasts until april eighteenth. we're not far off at all.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 320

adam has left. tyler, him, and i spent a good portion of the day scrubbing this house in preparation for departure and then, after moving some furniture back to a friend's place, he was out the door and gone like the boys before. we're down to three.

nate came around and we combined packs of mr noodles and ate and talked about the winter. he and i have been in fernie the longest out of all the seasonal crew in our group of friends. man, just thinking about the big picture and how we all came to a place where we knew little or none to develop and find some of the best friends of life so far is pretty incredible. we also both reckoned that we're going to miss waking up to a 360 degree view of mountains.

earlier in the afternoon i dropped a bunch of clothes off at the vintage consignment shop. i didn't want much in return and left with an off white 'albertan western wear' long shirt and bandana and pair of bobdylanesque shades. i noticed at mug shots today that my entire card of coffee punches is almost filled and i'm due for my last free brew next time i go in. all these little elements and the turning weather and departing friends are all little agreements for the preparation of leaving, for now, from this sweet little town and community in the mountains.

john cusack is coming to town. that's a secret, maybe, but they're actually shooting a movie on the ski hill in a month. the entire cast and crew has booked the lodge i play piano at for about a month. there's a chance i might come back for a couple weeks to play whilst the mass of rich and famous are staying in this obscure little town. could be a fun time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 319

i don't know if i ever mentioned the nickname 'mystical creature' before but i've been stuck with this nickname since camp. i think tyler started it because, even though we were roommates, we hardly ever saw each other awake in our room at the same time for at least a few weeks. now this winter has been filled with 'sup mystical' greetings from the rest of the boys when i get home. kind of funny.

i'm packing a little right now. tomorrow is the grand house clean in preparation for move out a few days after that.

at bible study tonight a chick who's just gotten back into town with her husband after going south of the equator for the season had brought me up in the conversations about hope and faith. jesse, the guy who let us stay in his house of guys when we'd first gotten into town, was leading a study on hope and this lady had said she was really impressed that i was still here. she didn't think it could be swung when she first heard my situations back in october. i even remembered losing hope one day in late october.

things happened. hopefully you saw them happen, too, because of this silly blog. the homeless sunday. the janitor job. the free ski pass. birthday grocery cards. friends. the countless other experiences and hookups in the time of greatest need. i mentioned to the group tonight that i'm never going to be able to live life the same again. faith. hope. love.

and jesse mentioned shane claiborne's book the irresistible revolution and how those with greatest need are usually able to see God work in the strongest ways because they aren't relying on their statuses or intently comfortable lifestyles. may i also add here that many must be worrying too hard about losing their consumeristic lifestyle. people might make global situations a bit easier on themselves if they started making the choice to life a simpler life before situations like recessions do create major issues, especially if they can't afford starbucks every morning. or if starbucks can't afford itself every morning, but that's a different matter. cycle.

for everything there is a season. i wished that this season wasn't coming to a close so soon as i pulled the books off my shelf and tossed them across the futon couch. there was a respectable library forming. i'm starting to miss our band also. we had an incredible thing going. but i'm not even trying to sound that i feel too bad, though, because people around the world are starving and going through worse things than moving out of a ski town. it's just that this winter of simple living and ultimate life-breathing makes me want to pay harder attention to the needs of others.

ten months and fifteen hundred miles has changed my life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 318

productive. my room has been finally cleaned and friend chris and i took care of both our houses' total recycling via his pickup truck and morning motivation. i walked home sometime after noon with a coffee and rice crispy treat from mugshots to get ready for the hot springs trip. ah, yes, it was meant to happen after all.

dave, nate, crystal, and i left town after three in the afternoon. the two hour drive was flawless and quick. maybe it was crystal's driving. it could have been the thawing mountains and logging trucks and momentum through this spring weather as well. the four of us took turns picking one song to play from each of our ipods and we cycled around the car for the entire trip there. a good method.

gas station coffee. the highway. a gravel road and a mountain pass and then the now familiar trio of rocky pools alongside a rushing light aqua river. the overhanging snowbank was melting on the other shore and the deep valley was cold but not near as bad as it'd been the last couple times around here during the dead of winter. the pools were crowded with pilsner drinking hippies and ragamuffin type. after an hour or so we had the middle pool all to ourselves.

later we had burgers at denny's in cranbrook. i'd always imagined shooting some sort of monologued short film in a denny's. i listened over the booth to nearby conversations as the four of us agreed that cranbrook is quite a boring place. no offense to friends that live there. i warmly remembered hitch hiking from cranbrook to fernie in early november.

the night is growing late and i'm not tired. everyone in our house has long gone to bed and i'm just about ready to brew another green tea and read. i'm also often remembering yesterday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 317

there was a knock on the door this morning and i stumbled out of my room barely conscious as i'm pathetically inclined to do. my friend chris had stopped by to give me this. what a good dude.

there's much prepping to do in this final week but i left the house with the specific intent to wander downtown. i had a feeling that something was going to happen and even went as far to post ''gonna wander around town all day. see who i run into. could be good'' as a twitter feed. i've never done anything like that before and after stopping by the bakery to pick up an apple fritter i wound up at the tea house. again.

the three leather arm chairs in the front in the familiar cove next to the windows and fireplace were all open. my new book was eventually paused by a man who looks like a less eccentric version of canadian nardwuar. narduar does the best musician interviews.

anyways, he asked about the book and then pulled some bullet shell from his jacket pocket and explained about an up-and-coming extreme sport that involves timed target shooting. pierre was his name. soon another, older man walked in and took the other seat. i recognized him as one of the musicians from thursday night jazz and blues at the brickhouse. he remembered me as a fourth man, bearded and wearing carhart workpants, pulled over a chair and joined our conversations about books, canada and america and politics, travel, places, people, music. man, where did this all come from? they joked that they had a club and welcomed me. it seemed for a while that they envied me and they eventually said something like that.

mike the musician went on his way before too long and pierre got a call do to some sort of repair work, so the man who i'll call 'bill' and i were left in the seats. bill is a big man in probably his late thirties and we kept shooting the breeze while watching the streams of people shuffle past the window. i'm not even going to try to remember the exact dialogue because it went on for over an hour, but it started rolling after he'd asked about my janitor work at the church, how i got involved, and was impressed to hear about that first, homeless sunday in town. he knew pastor shawn as casually as he knew most locals- said he sensed something different in that guy, something peaceful in his face- and went on to tell me about his long struggle and recovery from drugs and alcohol and wealth. he was a single parent, too, and i remembered seeing him with his young son in the shop days before.

man, i don't know what to say or how to outline anything we talked about, but in the end he compared his current state of recovery to falling short of the parallel desire for understanding the 'higher power' he'd learned to rely on while recovering physically and mentally from addiction. now he feels the yearning to try to fill in the blanks in his faith- said he comes to this tea house because he knew the owners were from our church and because the place was just different here. a good different.

said he's been getting real curious about it all again, about all this love stuff and genuine people and community. its hard being a single parent with a past. feels alone sometimes. he stared out the window at mnt fernie and admitted that going to church would feel a bit like walking into a new high school for the first time.

we kept going, back and forth and a little deeper each time. during one pause i thanked him for telling me his story. i thanked him for letting me know that money isn't all its cracked up to be and how his addiction had been seriously affecting his life. life. at the end i repeated an invitation to come to church this sunday. it'll be my last in this place- at least for right now, i told him. that way, he'll at least know one person. he said he should and would and wanted to meet some other parents who might be having troubles raising a boy. said he wanted the kid to have the chance to make some good friends and get that good kind of influence too.

pierre came back and i'd been at the tea house for over three hours at this point and i left the two of them to an open table and fresh tin of soaking tea. i remembered the twitter feed and the strong urge to wander today, the strong urge to expect something today, the strong urge to be ready for something today.

man, it's gonna be sad leaving this place. even as i left the tea house i ran into some 'long-lost' seasonal friends who wanted to hang out later. he told me of their plans to road trip down california and then mexico and south america.

i don't know how to end this day. this time. are bigger things meant to happen yet? this life is feeling that way and i'm alright with not having any big plans or talents or paved roads. this is all really perfect to me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 316

everyone woke up too late or had gone to find marginal riding conditions on the slopes so the hot springs trip didn't happen today. no big deal, i just felt i had the obligation to rectify the result other than yesterday's plans. and that's part of the reason i don't like announcing plans because you end up jerking too many people around, including yourself, if you get too deep in a particular attempt of foresight and then have it change.

i'm breaking format now and find that two line paragraphs are attractive at the moment. this is not poetry.

people dance the street in the breaking sun of spring
and cars wave at another and to familiar pairs of feet

the scene is beautiful in my mind, through a brick frame window,
and they don't know that they are a part of what i know

they are out of their holes for a moment
and crossing easy street in an easy life that don't feel deep

some do swing their children above the sidewalk, grinning to the gusts,
and the tiny feet touch down by the time the street is clear once again, cleared of wanderlusts

my mind makes stories for hers, hims, thems, and each one,
passing without seeing any eyes, recognizing some. knowing others.

a dozen or so familiars would be spotted from this coffee shop,
and some are inside talking to me right now and others are walking with more friends

conversation holds me to my interior chair, but i might run out, past the fireplace window nook,
and catch the others from the breeze. they would join, we have no plans.

we met once before, this very place and nearly same table, randomly,
and don't think i didn't see your over-the-shoulder funnel stare. leaving, lingering, she remembered.

in this way people take up their jackets and say goodbye, not covering their heads anymore
and then shed their light coats and say hello, separating tables and chairs

i get up and say goodbye to people all around, knowingly, and step outside
and in the sidewalk eye i might have been a scene through a brick frame window

banana and sunlight make the front porch the right choice back at my house
and in moments another group of friends crosses the road, saying hello, and joining.

and in this way we are all shooting stars in the breaking sun of spring

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 315

white trash party? does that even sound fun?

it is. man, it is.

there were probably just over twelve of us and, although i never counted at or afterwards, the group seemed complete. a tshirts. girls with heavy makeup lines. kraft mac n' cheese with corn dogs were served for this kind of event.

like i said before, it is indeed fun.

we have plans set for tomorrow too- a road trip to some natural hot springs. it's weird to see friends on facebook post their 'spring break trip' pictures. march madness basketball is all the rage, too. none of that is happening here, though. we're just a group of friends and people enjoying life and realizing that there's only about a week before many people start leaving our group.

life is good.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 314

today was my last ski competition. duties as starter included standing with clipboard and radio and communicating with judges down below and announcing and sending respective skiers down for their run. age...name... 3..2..1.. dropping... this volunteer events gig has not only been fun but i think i've learned some skills that might hopefully be usable in the future. but that's kind of boring to say. here's something more interesting.

you'd think that a regular guy who decides to live in a secluded cabin for a wisconsin winter would sit around and play dashboard songs or read jack london. you'd especially expect this if this guy had gone through a painful breakup with both a girlfriend and band. i expected something altogether emo.

but that's not what i found in an album by a guy named justin vernon. he goes by the name 'bon iver', a term customized from the french words for 'good winter' heard in a northern exposure series he'd brought along with some boys choir cd to accompany his cold and wooden solitude.

i like most the fact that he doesn't seem try too hard. people who try too hard make me really uncomfortable, especially musicians who think that they're awesome at playing three chord progressions. this justin guy had some time and instruments and basic recording gear. maturing purpose developed into the creation of a record. typical, right? that's another reason i expected something altogether emo but even that's not really what came of it.

somber. howling. chorusy harmonies. sincere. and all the while the overall vibe nestles somewhere in the balance of circumstance and flow.

check out bon iver here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 313

the list of people to hang out with increases as time slips more and more from this place.

chris and i had been planning to chill for a while and after opting out of riding this morning i called him up and we had breakfast. he's a sharp guy with a beard and curly hair jutting from underneath a beanie. toque. whatever. after some food we spend a few hours at the church jamming. even pastor shawn joined for a bit and the three of us rolled out some blues.

meanwhile, the afternoon sun faded into a warm and lazy rain. spring rain. its the kind you can smell without trying and the kind of smell that evokes the scent of woods and pines and damp, heated blacktop from anywhere around this small town. later, i went for a walk and stopped by mugshots to see a friend, jerri. they were nearing closing time and she hooked me up with some free coffee. always appreciated. that and the chocolate milk.

the rest of lower main street was without snow. i had no money and nothing really to buy, except maybe a new sleeping bag if i can find one, so i joined the granola mountain-livers and skiers and tourist sidewalkers. our routines seemed similar and i'd duck into a snowboard or outdoor outfitter and leaf through the reduced end-of-season stock, declining any assistance offered from wandering employees, until any notion compelled me to be done. then i was back on the sidewalk, wandering again, until another storefront stepped forth to pull me in. i went to the tiny bookstore for their smell and not their selection because their nook of a floor space is too small and the air is always too warm in there.

i regretted wearing my checkered billabong coat. i could have made it today with just the flannel shirt and jeans. a longboard would have been nice, too, maybe. oh well, one last time. i'll be leaving the faithful jacket behind when i go.

when i go.. when i go... wasn't it just a few moments ago that i got here?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 312

we're almost in the final week. the final countdown.

so we make plans and wake up at about ten for a couple hours of riding. burritos- they'd be a good lunch. we ride until anticipation heavies the quad. burritos- a good reason to call it quits.

starts raining a bit and we drink coffee at the flat with our homemade prizes and watch part of the john lennon documentary. swede comes home to publicly declare/share/thinks lennon and dylan sound crazy when they sing. doesn't care any for culture, music, or books are his second points. and number three: reading is waste of time.

the gym. haven't been in months. nate and i go for a bit, maybe just over an hour. shoulder feels good. strong.

more light rain. greying skies turn dark.

choose flannel and torn jeans. grabba couple books and head solo to organic market for the frail wooden table by peaceful window. black iron fireplace is turned off. paragraphs blend under talk with the counter friends. they begin to close- no rush- and offer a refill. lights, cya later.

more light rain. darkening skies are black. a dozen or so steps and i'm back.

pulls accordion out of bedside case. mothy lance folds wheeze between presses of plastic lance keys. digital keyboard and amp switched on in other corner of room. moving there right now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 311

pastor shawn had left the table at the tea house after some hanging out and conversation for part of the early afternoon.

i went back to my new new journalism book and was busy highlighting different quotes and sentences when a voice leaned over.

she asked if she could sit down at the table. i said sure. definitely. i barely recognized her as one of the waitresses at the resort. she remembered me as the piano man. more than a half hour later and after solid conversation, we exchanged names and she left to go grocery shopping.

that's why i love fernie so much. strangers sit down and become fast friends at any moment and at any place.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 310

the ideas and thoughts today are not new. their environment has changed greatly and i think this is a good thing but here are some oldies, complete with twisted grammar, etc, circa december 2007.

[modern art and my generation]

i'm sitting in downtown rockford at the octane.

at least i was when i started typing that sentence. i stopped, mostly because some lady butt-headed me on her shuffle to her seat behind mine. that totally crashed my train of thought.

but as i sat in the modernesque setting, i came to some quiet conclusions about my generation. part of this was provoked by modern art on the wall. that is a subject of its own, but i suppose the blur of colors and splotches has taken me somewhere.

i don't know how to exactly prove this because i'm not trying to speak for everyone, but i wonder how we can be so involved and fervently tuned towards the next particular phase of american culture without completely understanding ourselves as humans or where we might be headed because of the next big ideas or genre movement.

i see three influences that drive this. first is an increased disconnect from true personality and people. technology and connectivity allows for people who are standing or walking alone to not actually look alone, or bored, or whatever they otherwise would be when they can flip out a phone or sidekick and text someone else. i wonder if the massively increasing action only stems from the internal desire of acceptance even though they might not have invested in real conversation had the other person been around or presently available in the first place.

second is the affiliation with an image. as people move through life and encounter more and more people, the world hardly stops to see who's behind the person they know at work or school. is there even time for that anymore? rarely, it seems. emo children for example, who have already gone through the first stage mentioned, dress and act in a way that tells the world how they feel without actually being felt. culture can understand that these people are misunderstood and probably lonely- just by looking at them. beautiful, isn't it?

third, i see the ultimate betrayal of self and will. this heavy melding of people has a great deal to do with the lack of personal use of integrity of interaction and also with the attempt to parallel self-images with that of people of daily encounter, but there's more. while the older generations seemed to have had a bit more of a path or tradition, or at least maybe strong standards for a guide, i've seen many high school graduates mistake freedom of age as an excuse to break former patterns of decent behavior. i'm not saying i'm old fashioned, and don't think that i'm not either, but i think most people choose to perform under the influence of life and freedom in the way they do because a of lack of direction. how can most hope to know that what they want is what they indeed really want by the age of eighteen? twenty? formulas for instant millionairity and overnight popularity puts an even stronger blind on perception of reality. this generation doesn't like to be told that our half-effort or overnight attempt doesn't appear to be as awesome to the rest of the world. and why should it? even my logic professor started last semester with an outline of course material in which he gave his evaluation of a student's goals for the class. "goal- to get as high a grade as manageable while putting forth as little effort as possible."

how many people would take riches over wisdom.

heavy questions. i wonder how many people would honestly be able to say that they are fighting for something real that they know they really want and need. image and unaccounted freedom might be entertaining, but is it getting us to where we need to and should be?

we have options. we have convenience. we have time. we have life.

we have dreams. we have reasons. we have plans. we have plans.

we are unified. we are distinguished. we are separate. we are whole.

we are curious. we are searching. we are finding. we are surprised.

in the rush of our fleeting youth and amidst the creation and exinction of relationships and the little parts of ourselves we try to hold together, i want more.



i will learn of and seek this during these days that now lead to warm weather.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 309

here's some words i've taken from a friend kirk's recent blog post. i hope he doesn't mind the direct copy/paste. if you remember, we went to his house for our three days off at mid summer and i also visited him after leaving the seattle area in the fall. he's recently been in the u.k. and i share the following to make you aware of something to keep in prayer.

"Okay, first off I want to say that what you are about to read is entirely true and is still quite fresh in my memory and I am still trying to wrap my head around it.

So, on Friday night I had gone to bed and was watching the Hunt for Red October on my Macbook and part way through my door opens up to a large man wearing a balaclava with two more men in tow. They proceeded to ask me questions about where someone named "Kevin" was, they seemed quite certain that this character was in my flat. My flatmate, Grant, and I had moved in only two weeks ago so we had no idea who or what they were talking about. This annoyed the burglars, who were convinced we knew exactly what who they were talking about. They got quite frustrated with my flatmate and I not knowing what was going on so they decided that they could force an answer out of us, so they went to the kitchen to find something dangerous, luckily, since we had only moved in quite recently the most menacing item they could find was a butter knife. Even though it was a relatively safe knife, I knew what they could do with that knife so I was terrified. I decided that my best option was to be as truthful as I could and just keep praying for safety. Thanks to God, I felt a sense of calm throughout the entire encounter. Somehow I knew that I would make it through the night.

Once they seemed to understand that we did not know what was going on, they decided that their best option was to change gears and turn it into a burglary. They proceeded to take whatever they could find of value in our flat. Including my mobile phone, computer, camera, watch and all my banking information. Once they had ransacked the place and taken what they desired they told me to lie face down on my bed and they proceeded to tie me up ankles to wrists with whatever they could find in our flat, once they were convinced we were trapped, they left. Luckily, my left wrist wasn't tied quite as well as they had hoped so after some effort I managed to get out of the knot in time to help my flat mate out of his situation. Right afterwards we called the police who arrived within seconds and they were very helpful and did everything they could for us. They are taking it very seriously and are investing plenty of resources into finding the culprits.

So, this now puts me in a bit of a tricky place. I am without any real link to home or any communication, and I am without anything of value, and I'm unsure of whether or not my travel insurance will cover my losses.

So, if you could be praying for me that would be wonderful. Thank you so much for being my friend and know that I am totally alright, and no harm has been done to me physically."

i'm thankful for kirk and his family's kindness to me and friends. we're praying for your situations, man.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 308

there was an early knock on the door and cold plastic phone was pressed into my blind, open palm. a rolling avalanche of sleep was too heavy to agree to join the pre-church ride crew. massive powder day, i know. it's just too early. my mind was fogged enough. nate wisely reminded me to set my alarm for church before he hung up.

i wondered if the guys would even show up. apparently it's a nearly acceptable trend to choose a powder morning on sunday, but they started filing into the row a few songs into the service. most were still wearing some snow gear and i noticed that a few other adults were also wearing ski pants as part of their sunday best. none of what i've mentioned in this paragraph is even taboo in this place.

swede made broccoli soup afterwards at our house for a crew of six. clumps of snow crowded the other side of the kitchen window and we all declared contentment at about the same time i internally reminisced about a once-normal routine of afternoon sports after this same sunday lunch fullness. our t.v.'s gone now though and no one cares about it, but the same lethargic haze brought me to realize that post-lunch weariness is a near universal experience for sundays. two of the guys left to go riding again while the rest of us sat around and talked about music and far away places.

after chilling in the library later in the afternoon i headed around to nate's house. band mate ian lives there too.

ian is one of my favorite people in this town. first impressions wouldn't bring anyone to guess that this dark haired, drawling australian would be not only a fantastic guitarist but also a deeply perceptive and wise man. his underlying innocence balances an unnaturally well-rounded understanding of life which is constantly displayed through his kindness. he's also the one who learned guitar on the roof of a shack as a carpenter's apprentice back in australia. last night, nate and i had happened to see ian's van parked outside of the curry bowl restaurant and, after spying through a window and past some other surprised diners, we saw ian tucking his chin in his lopsided, humble grin. the sparkle in his eye was charming a girl across the table and we wondered if he'd yet ordered wine with the few french phrases he knows.

we razzed him a bit about it today and he rolled another grin against his shoulder and looked down in a smile, immediately turning the conversation to his regrets that we hadn't gotten his attention 'cause he wudda snuck us some fude out the back door. he would have too and, even better, would have probably somehow even convinced a waiter or busboy to hook us up with some sort of leftover, take-out box.

the falling snow had turned to rain by early evening today and ian put his buzzing electric guitar back against the wall of the living room, offering to give me a lift back to my place on his way to pick up the same girl from last night to go swimming at the aquatic centre. he tried to convince nate and i to come along too, promising it would be no big deal to have some mates join in, but we know that that's never a good idea.

besides, we figure we should stay out of his way right now for things like this. we reckon we're gonna need to ask him for some tips on his methods sooner or later and wouldn't want to make any trouble in the meantime.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 307

the powder 8 competition. fourteen teams of pairs competed on the slopes to try to create their best figure-eight tracks while also being judged on their synchronicity and flow. after setting up the generator and mini sound system on the top of the mountain, my job was to blast music down and across the slopes and introduce teams over the mic. i know that the announcer/emcee gig doesn't sound too much like me but it turned out to be a blast. all you do is hold the microphone a little farther than normal and roll your voice. "our next team has only just met today.. one is from massachusetts and the other from london, england, and even tho their bio sheet doesn't say exactly, i think they also met on eharmony.com. you'll have to double check that with them tho." that kind of gab. the two ladies in matching florescent orange were fun to call for. and the two american guys, both named tom, comprised 'team tnt' and asked that the acdc song be played for their runs.

constant fog and heavy snow made conditions pretty terrible overall but the comp went on and teams were commissioned by the ski patrol starters to make their runs in between the blowings and partings of mist and white. the judges sat below. at the end of the day, in the lodge, i was asked to do the awards ceremony too. there were drawings before the top three teams were brought up to stand on the podium on stage and 'team tnt,' the college buddy ski duo, were declared winners.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 306

what a perfect day. the air was warm and the streets slushy, but riding on the hill was prime. probably one of the best days yet overall.

there was this one spot... a ledge where a bowl of powder rested untouched below. a few of us perched uphill and then darted one at a time to huck ourselves off the lip to practice the best trick we could manage. the snow was knee deep and any fall was softer than jumping onto a mattress. nate landed a backflip once. one girl did a 360. i just got air. good air. good times.

the organic market is still the perfect place to end days like these. one of the girls brought over some garlic chick pea spinach soup for me to try and i realized that so far this month i haven't eaten meat once. the paycheck dinner had been delayed and now paused.

march will be an experimental vegetarian month. nothing permanent though.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 305

one of my favorite authors wrote a pretty solid blog post on writing. makes sense.

i'm still a little bitter that he never wrote me back though.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 304

there's a second half to the poem at the top of this page. the latter section is a little different but maybe it just has two parts, i don't know. it's just the way it came out.

"to be free"

inspired by c.j.m.

bring to the shore the power of the ocean to forgive this mind of a selfish life

stand beneath the shadow of a mountain to be made small apart from my spiraling stride

bind these eyes with the eternal darkness that only stars of midnight give

shine through the wild with the deepest silence that man himself barely lets live

show me the beauty thats been twisted up in a lie

let unravel her mystery, breathing warmth from the sky

lift up my vision higher than your blind ever sees

give me the life, to be free, that few longer believe.

today was spent with some friends as we made burritos and chilled at the coffee shop and then in the sun on the mountain-facing front porch of our house. gazing at the blue mountains in the golden afternoon reminded me of that second line. that's why i'm posting the entire thing tonight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 303

there's a line from a song that i once idealized. this one phrase would roll through my mind and i'd replay the song over and over in order to feel the momentum and then the outburst during the part of ''i think i'll go to boston, where no one knows my name.'' the rest of the augustana song was about leaving california and now looking back it all seems a bit too emo.

but yesterday it struck me that when i left in may, nobody from now on would know my name. i was getting my wish.

and so it makes it somewhat harder to now say goodbye to two friends who have shared this canada experience since nearly day one. besides the month or two in late fall, the kiwis shaun and paul and i have gotten used to canadian life and culture and overall new place. we had musical bonding as well and had formed 'the three shnapadees'' jam group at camp. we have one recording.

they're leaving fernie tomorrow. shaun mentioned a few moments ago how weird it was to not have anticipated plans for reuniting as we'd had when we split up temporarily after camp. fernie had been our plan.

the two of them have worked extremely hard on paperwork and requirements and have made significant financial investment for their united states work visa. they've left their dreaded jobs as ticket checkers for the green-eyed corporation that runs the hill in order to have a final meeting with the embassy in vancouver and then, if all goes well, to trek down to southern california hoping for a summer experience somewhat like they've seen in the movies. some of their plans include perusing the origins of the lords of dogtown and, maybe, even trying to see 'the governator' life and in person.

i didn't know much about the people of new zealand before. we all found it kind of hard to believe that we as strangers could become such good friends during a summer and then winter season but it's happened and in a place where neither of us had anyone who previously knew our names.

and with this, the momentum shifts once again. our household is now only four-strong.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 302

my cousin graduates from the air force academy in may which, in his words, is anticipated as 'the best day of [his] life.' i'm hoping to be there that day in the stadium in colorado as joe biden delivers a speech and black caps are chucked towards the darting roars of a climactic air show.

should be good.

conversations swung around and around. future, family, places, etc. after the inevitable political section of our chat i went over to google to entertain some quite disconnected and merely musing curiosities that stemmed from our online dialogue. turns out that obama, clinton, and martha stewart have antichrist connotations linked to their positions. like i said, it was just for fun and i'm not making any big statements and will now decline further comment on all that.

i never really know how to answer probes for my personal political opinion. i joked and said that because of corporate and international agendas ''we will all be dead in a little while.'' maybe that automatically gives me a mix of the liberal rodeo with republican-fate syndrome. once again though, i'm not making any big statements in that sentence. none.

here is my big statement, however, if you're at all still curious and haven't started googling random things like i did at this point in our conversation earlier. they're not even my words, but the philosophy applies to more than trying to pick the 'lesser of evils' or whatever the political perspective has come down to these days.

"make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 thessalonians 4:11-12.

that, to me, makes more sense than anything else.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 301

"chair talk"

some answers to various questions that have occurred in random conversation with random people on the various days on the mountain.

"no. yea i know this is fernie. i haven't. no, yea, i'm serious. yes. i have really never smoked weed before. yea, i'm serious."

''really? i never would have guessed. like 'granola-style' hot? man, i should look into that. do a lot of these girls do tree planting work here?"

"-hey .... ..... ....... ........" i've gone several lifts for over ten minutes without having to say another word after returning their initial hello. they've got the conversation covered. all of it.

"sorry. whoops. sorry. sorry." i don't remember how the rest of the conversation went, but a few weeks ago the t-bar haul back was super busy and they were forcing everyone to double up. i had to share the handle with a skier. i was on a snowboard. snowboards don't just face forward for you. there are grooves in the snow that tell you where you will go as you slide up the hill. skiers face forward. snowboarders face sideways and clip into the skier facing forward. "sorry. whoops. sorry. sorry."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 300

three hundred. a mighty number. heavy. the third centurion marker of all this. three hundred. a heavy number.

i haven't read another person for this long in my entire life. thanks very much for your patience and loyalty, both as a person and reader. i know what it's like.

i don't feel mighty though. i'm kind of tired and didn't ride today even though it had snowed overnight. the tide is slowly ebbing out. out of this town. out of this place. i can feel it. i'm getting ready to leave.

i think i'll be beginning to begin the long trek home one of these days. probably april.

maybe life really is what you make of it and whatever energy is spent believing in ideas or philosophies will be what makes a difference in attitude and readiness for reality.

or maybe the structure of societies exist so strongly not because too few people tried to break it but because those who did were left to find that abiding within it is a much easier way to live overall. not necessarily fuller, but usually easier.

after three hundred days, i've found a little more of a balance for these two perspectives. extreme surroundings and interesting people are everywhere. they are here. they're unmet somewhere else. they're everywhere.

right now, i envy those who can settle, if truly wholly and honestly, in that one place and have the people they need together with the day-to-day they can eagerly live.

right now, starting today, i'm ready to try to start to join those two worlds within myself.

and that's the closest i've ever come to saying that i'm growing homesick.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 299

i've lost some concentration on this blog the past few days. cabin fever might be edging in more than originally thought. even some shredding of the big snowfall hasn't thrashed the cold mountain restlessness thats been coming around each night.

shaun and paul are watching clips of the governator on youtube in the other room. i think that's part of their preparing for their trek to spend the summer in california. they leave wednesday for their interview at the embassy in vancouver.

tyler and i were chilling around town this afternoon and we both put a bit of perspective on the past ten months. we've technically been roommates or housemates since the very first day we met in may. its almost been a year of constant life with the five of us. tim and jon are as relevant in all this even though they've kind of come in during different parts of the journey.

i'm a little curious about illinois now. will people look older? i mean, it has been almost a year. tomorrow is day three hundred. do people change appearance much in three hundred and whatever days?

i've finished sorting the goods to donate and dump. remember back when the leaves here were orange and longboarding to the grocery store was just becoming a new way of life? thirty-three cent bananas and fifty-nine cent bagels were the official lunch of a vagabond.

looks like we're officially leaving fernie at the very end of march instead of the end of april. tentatively-official.

there are a few stops still yet to be made.


slight insomnia seems to be a reoccurring pattern for nights of the last few weeks in any place i've grown comfortable during the past two hundred ninety-nine. its happened before both on vancouver island and in seattle. each following experience, however, has gotten better and better. fuller and fuller.

i've just stepped back inside the house to brew some green tea after spending a few moments against a wall across the street while watching the logging, coal, oil, tow, pickup, and semi trucks rumble past the highway. there's a light snowfall and taxis join the midnight flow as they carry incapacitated souls away from the pub across the street. a front wheel drive station wagon struggles to turn uphill from the side street and has to try three times before gathering enough momentum to jolt onto the clear, dark highway.

yes, there are a few stops yet to be made.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 298

the hostage

tried to try to be tried again.
forged attempts of fleeting sin.
tempo halted.
intentions faulted.
savoring pain of all humans.

nature ensnared in our skin,
the mind inside cannot cringe,
without the flesh,
the blubber mesh,
hostage behind my very grin.

muscles flex to face and form,
shell that shields the weather-storm,
what is really inside.
what is forced to hide.
what keeps us human.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 297

my favorite coffee shop in fernie is the organic market. after a long standing, objective appreciation for the three i frequent, the organic market has just pulled out in front.

i went in with no greater expectations than good coffee, reading, and interacting with the chil people who work and own the shop. always a good vibe. the owner cindy had just gotten a vintage chrome mixer to add to the collection of antique food equipment that decorates the shop. she asked me what i thought of the mixer and, as far as mixers go, i figured it was one of the best i'd ever seen. somehow, it reminded me of my grandma's kitchen. her husband, scott, came out from around back and pointed out that it had been made in chicago. nice. i think my grandma eugenia had one of those.

darkness was filling the valley and i watched an indian couple come into the place. the man had a turban and traditional pointed beard. the woman chattered in awe of the decorations of the place but soon it became obvious that she was interested in far more than decorations. they were looking to purchase property and open an indian restaurant in fernie. apparently they already have one in north east calgary and they pointedly asked the owners of the market about business and such. the man looked around the shop as well, speaking not nearly as much as the woman, and came over to my table. we said hello and he asked me about the town and i asked him about himself.

he said he' come over to canada in 1990 and i quietly realized that this was probably the first indian i've really met. he told me a bit about punjab and went back to the counter and ordered three cappuccinos, letting cindy know that the third was for joe.

the woman whom we was with told me that she wished she had time to sit by the window in this coffee shop and read a book in a mountain town like this. "i can tell that you are at peace. i can see it in your face." i wholeheartedly agreed.

the indian couple left and the owners and i continued to chat. sixties radio plays none stop and the beatles were jangling at the moment. apparently there's ten thousand acres in california that will go unseeded of tomatoes this sumer due to draught. they told me about how their organic market and farm had come to be. we talked about localization of food purchasing and how most people don't even think about where their food comes from.

some consumers try to buy food within a one hundred mile radius of production in order to support local growers. i sat by the window and realized that, between this market and, laughably, the convenience store next to our house, i buy most of my food within a one hundred foot radius and which only expands up to a half mile in order to go to one of the two main grocery stores in town.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 296

the fog in the trees and pudgy cool misty air reminded me of the island back in may. even the mountains were here-and-there or partially visible depending on how the wind pulled or pushed the cloudy blanket across the sky. my red raincoat was enough protection from the mild cold and lazy drizzle. today really reminded me of day three, way back when.

i happened upon a book of poetry at the library. this poem was particularly enchanting, especially considering the randomness of the overall pickup. i soon left to go to the post office and coffee shop but man, this afternoon reminds me of vancouver island. the air. that's what it is. and the fog. that and the cave-like, daylight, spray-lite smell. i almost don't even mind having to consistently dodge deep slush piles and little street rivers. i'll go get an apple fritter.

a strange influence tonight led me to empty my bags and organize my closet and separate what i plan on leaving at the salvation army here and what i'll take when i leave this place. that moment of departure still could come as soon as one month. man, one month. i remember getting here in tame and paling october and the end of a winter in this place was over five months away. one month. has this even been ten months?

time must be running out. shaun and paul have sold their old longboards and a guitar to the pawn shop and are getting ready to leave for their california summer experience, whatever that turns out to be like. even the handful of snow that fell last night wasn't enough to keep everyone on the slopes for the entire day.

i hope you don't mind a little change of style. rougher, rawer, thoughts and snapshots from this day. times are changing and i have no big projections to make.

finally though, i have some cool news. one of my images was chosen for wallblank.com's wall of fame- seven of the favorite pieces since their start in october. check it out and, if you feel like it, browse the weekly circle as well.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 295

while looking through some old text edit files i found it funny again how bits and pieces written long ago have suddenly and mostly manifested in this life. this note is from january sixteenth, 2007.


i'm stepping into customized concrete blocks. tomorrow my feet will be heavy and slow. my mind unsettled.
my body will be possessed by schedule, forced with the continuing of the road and pursuit of the idealistic life.
that and following whatever is left of the standards i once knew reguarding interactions and their intentions of people. at the very least, it will be fresh.

school. college again.

i will be learning, i will be being. isn't that good enough?
my heart and soul are lost in turmoil.

i want a mountain. to shout down the valley. to yell up at heaven. to bask in the silence of stars.

i want a mountain. to shout down the valley. to yell up at heaven. to bask in the silence of stars.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 294

whitefish, montana, is a little like fernie. the small town has a very concentrated, vintage downtown except in the states tall storefronts connect every entrance. western style. we met melody at the swift creek cafe for breakfast and then headed to the church where her dad pastors.

we also still had a solid amount of work to do in the studio. two in the afternoon was still a ways away so we went to the grocery store to stock up on goods and spent the remaining time sitting in the van finishing writing lyrics. jeremy was a little stressed at this point, i think.

interestingly enough it turns out that luke is the music pastor at the church across the street from melody's dad's church. this man with this studio who we randomly found on craigslist knows our only friends in montana. nice.

our session was only meant to go to six or so but, as time so often and easily does in recording studios, we had only completely finished three of five songs by the time midnight hit. whoa. we have to go. ian and jeremy have real jobs that start early monday morning. i was mostly concerned with the surprise that march was already here. march.

some plans were made and a deal struck and we left with cds of the three songs we'd finalized. studio pictures and perhaps even a sample of our work soon to come on vagabonded.

i stumbled into my room at three a.m. monday morning and dropped the accordion case back to its nightstand position next to the flat futon bed.

we're... a recorded... band.. music...... we have an e.... a..an e.p... zzzzzzzzzzz....